I promised to my friends that I would publish, tonight, the recipe for the Jerusalem Artichoke soup inspired by the 17th century recipe from the first Polish cook book, within my series designated to Old Polish cuisine (more details in my previous post).
Nutty, earthy, sweetie Jerusalem artichokes (I prefer to call them “topinambours”) are one of those vegetables that were commonly known and used in cookery in Poland 300 and 200 years ago and they disappeared - not from the country - but from our tables. They were replaced by potatoes, as far as I know. Despite their name (“artichoke”) they rather have nothing to do with those artichokes than we know from French or Italian cuisine. I realize that culinary habits of every nation are different and had to evolve over time. However, to me the most surprising aspect of Old Polish cuisine is not the variety of poultry (capon!) and venison, not the variety of soft water fish, but the spices like ginger (we can call this cuisine as “gingery” cuisine), raisins and limes. I wonder: how was it possible that they were so popular at that time? How did people get them? Every recipe call for spices, sourness and sweetness and exotic ingredients which I did not know when I was a kid!
The season for topinambour lasts from late summer to February (this is not what I know from practice – I have just read it). Anyway, if you get (or buy) these vegetables, keep them in your fridge, otherwise they will quickly get soft. If you make a soup with them, you do not really have to peel the artichokes; it is sufficient to clean them thoroughly.
Today's recipe, taken from Stanisław Czerniecki's book, calls to only use vegetables and spices; the recipe was sent to me by professor Dumanowski who advised that the revisited version of this soup tastes better with cream and ginger. Ok, I decided to follow his instructions and I came to the evidence that he was right. Without any cream, the addition of ginger to the soup would be too bland; and the addition of cream added some nice and smooth taste. I added some sourness by squeezing in - just before serving - some fresh lime juice. The soup is tasty and interesting, but it needs some more changes, maybe more ginger? The addition of crispy vegetable chips is a must, it changes the character of the soup, as freshly squeezed limes did.
Fortunately I go to France next week. I am dreaming about buying a capon (the most popular meat in Poland 300 years ago and unavailable today) and make some super extra dish for you.
Jerusalem Artichoke Velouté with Vegetable Chips
(Zupa – krem z topinambura z warzywnymi chipsami)
Serves 4 small / medium portions
For the velouté:
350 g Jerusalem artichoke, delicately peeled, washed and diced (if you do this in advance, keep the vegetable in water with some vinegar to prevent it from darkening)
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
2 cm ginger, peeled and chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 small handful of soaked raisins
1 parsley root, peeled and chopped
¼ small celery root, peeled and chopped
300 ml stock (vegetable or chicken)
200 ml milk
100 ml cream
2 pinches nutmeg
2 tablespoons goose grease / butter
1 lime, cut into quarters
For the vegetable chips:
100 g (possibly large) Jerusalem artichokes, delicately peeled, washed and cut along into very thin slices (if you do this in advance, keep the vegetable in water with some vinegar to prevent it from darkening – remember to dry out slices before placing them in boiling oil);
1 parsley root, peeled and cut along into paper thin, long strips
500 ml vegetable oil for deep frying
Put saffron in 100 ml of warm water and put aside.
Heat some oil or grease in a saucepan, add onions, ginger, garlic and caramelize them a bit over medium heat stirring constantly. Add harder vegetables: carrot, parsley root and celeriac. Fry for around 10 minutes stirring constantly to prevent them from burning. Add Jerusalem artichokes, raisins, stock and cook under the cover, until the Jerusalem artichokes are soft. Do not overcook them, as they may become starchy.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and blend the soup using a blender. Then pass the soup through a fine sieve; discard the leftovers and pour the soup in a clean saucepan. Add milk, cream, saffron with water, and all the spices. Bring to a boil. Adjust the taste if necessary. You can add more ginger if you like a strong ginger flavor.
Make vegetable chips: bring oil to boil over low heat – once it is very hot, put delicately the vegetables into the oil and fry them until gold and crispy. Remove them from oil and put on a paper towel.
Serve hot with chips and quarters of limes.